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3 Ways to Personalize the Online Store Shopping Experience

With the Internet allowing shoppers to access information with just a click of the button, and with smartphones and tablets enabling people to do so from any place at any time, a person looking to buy a particular item has a ton of options to choose from. Just think about it – simply Googling the word “shoes” is going to bring up over a million search results, with different companies, styles, brands, etc. all vying for the attention of that individual investigator. 

Customers know this too. They understand that with the Web providing consumers access to companies all over the globe, companies want to entice as many of those consumers as possible. Shoppers aren’t naïve – more purchases mean more revenue, and increasing revenue is the bottom line goal of any for-profit business. So they also understand that companies try to cast their nets wide in order to capture as many customers as they can, which sometimes means sacrificing attention to the individualized shopping experience in order to appeal to the greater population. 

But this understanding leads to another reaction by customers – they want the personalized shopping experience. In fact, many shoppers expect it – “I’m not some nameless, faceless nobody; if you want my money, it’s your job to persuade me to spend it with you.”

And the only way a merchant can effectively persuade that customer is by truly understanding their needs, wants, and behavior, and then tailoring their e-commerce site to reflect and respond to that behavior. By following this strategy, online retailers communicate their focus on best serving the customer – meaning that their e-commerce site focuses on the customer as a flesh-and-blood person, not as an abstract dollar sign.

By showing your customers that you are attuned to their individual needs, you create a deeper connection, and this connection helps make your store stand out from the rest of your competitors – which encourages your customer to keep returning. Read our three suggestions on how to personalize your online store for greater customer conversion success.

1. Product Recommendations

By identifying and catering to shoppers’ interests, merchants provide customers with the products or services that are most relevant to them – which naturally lead to greater customer attention and conversion.

According to an article in Internet Retailer magazine, a report from the research firm E-Retailing Group Inc. found that out of a survey of 1,108 consumers who have shopped online four or more times in the previous year and spent more than $250 online, 44% of respondents said they find it valuable if the retailer offers product recommendations tailored to their personal tastes and shopping histories, up from 37% eight months earlier. In addition, 39% said they buy more from retailers that present personalized product recommendations based on their on-site browsing and past purchases, up from 35% eight months earlier.

Product Recommendations

Product recommendations are a valuable way to leverage customer interests and promote cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Putting in a “Related Products” and “Customers who purchased this product also purchased” section is an important way to engage with the customer’s browsing activity. Instead of displaying only the product on the product page, including helpful recommendations and suggestions of other merchandise related to that specific item signals your attention to the customer’s selection. And with the recommendations you offer, you also demonstrate your understanding of what a customer interested in that product is looking for, and your ability to anticipate and serve those potential needs. 

2. Store Keyword Search

Allowing a customer to get from locating a product to purchasing the product as quickly as possible is a crucial process in the personalized e-commerce approach. Because just as a loyal customer of a brick-and-mortar store enjoys being able to pop into the store and quickly pinpoint the product they seek (since they would be familiar with the store’s layout), an online store shopper must have that same ability with an e-commerce storefront. People are not going to visit, or return to, a store where they can’t quickly and easily find what they need, regardless of whether it’s a virtual or brick-and-mortar location.

Store Keyword Search

Store Keyword Search

Allowing auto-fill in search functionality for both keywords and SKUs help your shoppers to not only find specifically which item they are looking for, but it also gives direction to shoppers who are simply browsing.

Placing your search box in a prominent, intuitive place is an important starting point for customers looking to navigate through your store, because if customers don’t know where to start, their frustration will make them leave – not try harder.

Also, providing auto fill in capability for word search is helpful in enabling customers to locate the item they want. This functionality also carries the cross-sell bonus of notifying customers of other items similar to their search intention, encouraging them to check out other areas of your online store.

3. Integration with Facebook/Twitter

Shopping at brick-and-mortar stores carry the advantage of allowing customers to turn shopping into a social activity – we enjoy going with friends because we like their company, and also because we like getting their opinions on the items we’re thinking of buying (“Do these shoes look okay?” “What do you think about this laptop?”).

But no longer is online shopping a solitary activity. With social networking sites connecting us to our loved ones at any time and in any place, e-retailers can provide their customers a platform for getting the input and attention of a social shopping experience. Allowing customers to post links to products from the products’ pages on their personal Twitter or Facebook accounts makes online shopping an interactive, collaborative activity.   

Integration with Facebook/Twitter

Giving customers the ability to share links to your products on their social networking sites creates an interactive online shopping experience – which can directly influence customers’ purchasing decisions.  

The ability for friends and relatives to weigh in on a potential purchase is a persuasive influencer in a shopper’s purchasing decision – because it’s hard to refute a trusted source when he or she says a product is great, or that it’s perfect for you, etc. Also, having customers share links to your merchandise on social media generates greater brand awareness and site traffic – because if a friend is sharing a cool, interesting product, it’s highly likely that it will catch the attention and curiosity of another friend.

If you would like more information on how Ignify can improve your online store’s customer personalization capabilities, please email ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.

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